This is a hard review to write because to experience this book you have to read it for yourself. I tend to shy away from books that deal with World War II, especially books containing graphic scenes such as this one, but because this is Kristin Hannah, I knew that it would be an amazing read. From the beginning it captured and held my interest but I have to admit at some point in the book it lost its appeal, which was most likely due to my lack of knowledge for the subject of war in France. But by the time that the main story-line involving Isabelle and her courageous journey began I could hardly put this book down.
I read on and on, wondering when in God's name would these women, Isabelle and Vianne, Vianne's daughter Sophie and other prominent characters finally find peace. Everyone in this book; even the children involved, are the bravest souls I can imagine. If I were in their position, I wouldn't have been able to live through such a harrowing ordeal and would have given up early in the story-line. If this is really what World War 2 was like (and I have no doubt that it was-the amount of research that must have been involved in this book is, in itself, remarkable), I am forever indebted to everyone who gave their lives, their dignity, their bravery for their country.
No amount of my gushing or explaining could do justice to this book; like I said before, you just have to read it for yourself. It is graphic; remarkably so and is far different than any book Kristin Hannah has ever written. I mean that in a good way. I absolutely loved "Home Front" which is another book about war that takes place in more modern times. But this book focuses entirely on the war itself instead of those at home.
I finished this book last night, five days after it was due at the library and I feel completely drained.I felt like I was in this war right along with Isabelle and Vianne. There is another story interwoven here; an old woman who's identity isn't revealed until the end of the book and it beautifully ties everything together, making the reader nod in understanding. I loved that it was interwoven into the story because it broke up the storyline in such a way that was welcome rather than an intrusion.
Even if you think you can't handle graphic and raw scenes like those depicted in war, read this book. It's amazing and perhaps even a bit life-changing. Kristin Hannah has been my favorite author since I first read "On Mystic Lake" back in 2007, and this just cements the reasons that I find her truly wonderful. She has a gift that no one can match.